My kids were born with stork bites, which is just a cutesy term for birthmarks on their faces. They are on the forehead and trail down from the hairline straight down to their noses. They are pink in color, but with a rise in their emotions, they turn a deep red. They remind me of their sweet newborn cries and baby giggles.
Some have faded, some have not. My daughter asked me the other day if she could cover one up with makeup. My heart sank, but I understood it. I can see the insecurities setting in from standing out and for looking different. But I love their birthmarks. It makes them unique and—in my eyes—part of what makes them gorgeous. Someday, I hope they can be more accepting of these as distinctive and part of their identity instead of reaching for the concealer.
Identifying marks, whether from birth, surgery, or simple mishap carry tales of memories, experiences, journeys, and survival. Though we may try to conceal them, they are part of what makes us. The story that goes with them are part of our story.
When I was three, I ventured head-first down a slide and landed on the concrete. This resulted in several stitches in my chin. I have divots on my forehead from my bout with chicken pox. My shins have faint scars several inches in length from my I think I’ll shave, how hard could it be? phase when I was nine. I’m reminded of my mom telling me not to pick a cruel recurring zit on my nose during my teen years by the acne scar that’s now in its place. My hips and stomach are covered in deep waves of stretch marks from an expanding fetus five times over, some silvery and aged, some fresh and pink.
My scars, birthmarks, blemishes and everything that I consider imperfections are a road map of my life and a visual reminder of my history.
I find, too often, that we try to cover up the truth. We are always on a search for a roomy shirt that doesn’t hug the wrong places and pants that don’t draw attention to unsightly bulges. We hide behind make-up applied just so. We spend too much on creams that will improve our skin or get rid of wrinkles. All those attempts at illusion can get exhausting.
Project Real has been an effort to embrace who we are with no more errs, a lesson in honesty and acceptance. It has been an invitation for everybody to share their reality and own it.
We’ve been real about our weight, we’ve shared our insecurities and flaws and we’ve even bared it all in our swimsuits for all to see. It has been scary. It has been overwhelming.But it has been liberating.
Today, we’re taking it another step further. We are sharing our scars, birthmarks, stretch marks, moles, and freckles. Insecurities be damned! We are telling our story and we want you to tell us yours. Let’s be comfortable in our own skin, even if that skin is pockmarked.
Tena: They’re not pretty and I’m not about to pull out the two piece swimsuit anytime soon, butyou know what? I earned my stretch marks.
Katie: This is the scar from brain and spinal surgery I had 3.5 years ago. My surgeon also elected to shave the entire bottom part of my head for the surgery and while my hair grew back people often made comments about the scar and about the haircut, not realizing that it wasn’t one I chose. But over time I’ve gotten used to it, and embraced it as a part of my history. I wear my hair up all the time now and if people notice, I’m happy to share my story.
Angie: Being a skin model was never something I aspired to achieving. My first stretch marks appeared on my hips when I was about 14-years-old. I discovered them on my arms at 16 when I weighed under 120 pounds. As I’ve aged and grown up and out, the red-turned-purple-turned-shiny striations have popped up pretty much everywhere you can think. These stretch (birth) marks on my stomach are what was left after being pregnant twice in 18 months.
Allison: I (my face) got attacked by a dog when I was 4 years old. I remember my doctor saying I could have them fixed when I got older. Over the years, my scars faded a little and, more than that, I learned to love them. They are as much a part of me as my nose is. And, oddly enough, I still love dogs.
Brittany: This used to be a butterfly. I was 15. I was eager to be an adult and independent, so I laid on the kitchen table of my best friend and let her uncle give me my very first tattoo. I hid it until I was almost 18, and within 2 months of my father discovering it, it was removed by a plastic surgeon. Cut out. Left with this. Some days I think I still see the butterfly. I’ve gotten three tattoos since, but I still miss my first.
Own your scars, own your signs of life lived and chances taken.
We welcome you to share those marks that make you, you, with us here today!